Note: this post reflects our best understanding (as of today) about the ongoing ADA sidewalk repair work in WestWinds. Going forward, we will keep the community advised to the best of our ability. Please be patient with us, however, as we are all volunteers with jobs and families! Response times during the holiday may be slow. We would like to thank the Frederick County Department of Public Works and LLA for their efforts to keep us informed and address our questions.
K9 Kounty inspector, scrutinizing removed roots. Also sandwich-surfing... but mostly, checking roots.
Update 5. Latest crew and work schedules from the County (also updated in update 4 below):
No work Monday 2/19 (holiday)
Stump crew will probably be on site Tuesday 2/20, 2/21, 2/22, 2/23 till finished.
Tree crew will be on site Wednesday 2/21 until tree removals are completed.
2/16/24, 2:35 p.m.
Update 4. The County was able to circle back this week to replace the asphalt paths on Country Club between Pond Fountain Court and Panorama Drive. Sidewalk work was completed Thursday, 2/6. A few street trees on CC Road near Panorama were removed, and the rest are marked with pink dots for removal. Now that the concrete work is done, the tree removal and stump grinding crews and their machinery can begin cleanup of stumps from the first round of tree removal along Country Club from Eagletrace to just after Pond Fountain and the removal of remaining trees in the mow strip adjacent to the former asphalt paths on Country Club. Here are the latest estimates for the remaining work. Please be aware that plans can change due to weather or other circumstances (note: schedule below updated 2/16, 2:32 pm)
Stump Grinding 2/12/24-2/16/24. Tuesday is unsure due to possible snow.
Monday 2/19 (holiday - no work)
Stump crew will probably be on site Tuesday 2/20, 2/21, 2/22, 2/23 till finished.
Tree crew will be on site Wednesday 2/21 till the tree removals are completed.
Tree Planting, end of March or beginning of April.
The County is finalizing plans with their arborists, but it looks like the replacement trees will be a mix of Paperbark Maples and Japanese Lilacs. These were the two trees best suited to our narrow mow strips, as they don't have invasive root systems. Special root barriers will be installed with the trees to direct the roots away from the new sidewalks. 2/9/24, 11:40 a.m.
Update 3. Tree removals along Country Club Road from just before Pond Fountain Court to the intersection with Eagletrace are pretty much completed. The next step is for the stumps and above-ground roots to be ground out before new trees can be planted later this Spring after the weather warms up. We got one update from the County - they had hoped to try and replace the asphalt paths (and remove street trees) along Country Club between Pond Fountain and Panorama, but now that part of the work will either be completed after their current project or - if funding for this contract runs out - will be deferred to the next contract. NOTE: neither Lake Linganore nor the WestWinds board have any direct control over the planning, timing, or performance of this work, as it is a public works project similar to the sewer work that occurred last year. Our volunteers have worked hard to get as many details as possible (published in this blog post), and emails have gone out to the entire community on 11/29, 12/21, 1/4, 1/12 as information becomes available. The Frederick County Department of Public Works have been very willing to provide information, and we thank them for helping us to keep you as informed as possible as plans and schedules change. 1/29/2024 7:38 PM.
Update 2: Tree work. Work on removing trees will start soon (possibly next week). There are separate contractors for the sidewalk removal/replacement and tree removal, so the sidewalk work gets done first with the tree removal happening later. There isn't enough room on our roads for two sets of equipment, so the tree company is waiting until enough of the sidewalk work is done that they can get their equipment in without closing down the road. Homeowners will not necessarily be notified in advance unless cars need to be moved, but we'll send out an email if we get more information. Tree replacement will happen in the Spring! 01/10/24 3:39 pm
Update 1: There will be no concrete work or contractors on site the week between Christmas and the New Year, and tree work will not begin until after the New Year! 12/21/23, 11:30 a.m. Background
WestWinds sidewalks are a patchwork system of concrete sidewalks, asphalt paths with gaps, and no sidewalks at all on some streets. Over time, trees planted in the narrow mow strips between the sidewalks and road have heaved up the pavement, making our sidewalks unsafe and even unusable in many places. Since 2018, the WW board has been working with the County to get our sidewalks fixed under the ADA Sidewalk Retrofit program. Funding for this 10-year program ends in FY 2025.
This federally-funded and -mandated project will bring most existing WW sidewalks up to the safety and accessibility standard required under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. It involves repairs to existing concrete sidewalks and replacement of part of our asphalt path system. The County is working on a solution for a few sections (upper Country Club and Panorama) that cannot be completed now. The work will be performed in the public right-of-way by the County.
A major challenge is that the root systems of street trees along Country Club Road have severely damaged the concrete and asphalt sidewalks. To repair/replace these sidewalks, licensed arborists advise that approximately 65 street trees located along Country Club Road between Eagletrace and Panorama Drives will need to be replaced. Replacing just the sidewalk is likely to damage or kill the trees, with repaired sidewalk sections quickly becoming damaged by continued root growth.
Work will be performed in two phases:
Phase 1 – sidewalk repair/replacement and tree removal.
Phase 2 – planting of replacement trees.
Homeowners with trees to be removed will receive a notice if cars need to be moved (01/10 update). Sidewalk repairs and tree removals are planned to finish this winter, with removed trees replaced in the Spring. Stumps from removed trees will be ground and wood chips removed. Special root barriers will be installed to prevent future root damage once replacement trees are planted. Replacement tree species will be better suited to our narrow mow strips, featuring slower growth and root systems that go down rather than out. We will provide more info on tree replacements in the Spring! The County is working with us on replacement species.
Questions and Answers:
1. Who is legally responsible for maintaining sidewalks and the mow strip between the sidewalk and street?
(paraphrase –full text at link) Per Frederick County Code: § 1-15-4. OWNERS TO REPAIR SIDEWALKS AND DRIVEWAYS, the landowner abutting the street area in which the sidewalk has been constructed is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk and driveway entrance in good repair (including snow removal) and maintaining the space between the sidewalks and the curbs or road or property line.
(1/10 update). This will be especially important once the weather warms up and grass seed starts to sprout and replacement trees are planted. It will be very important for homeowners to water the grass and the newly planted trees to help them get established before (and during) the hot summer months! Homeowners may find they need to overseed the mow strips, as seeds can wash away during storms, be eaten by birds, etc.
2. Why is this work being done now?
We were originally scheduled for FY 2024. Because the County had extra money for this year, work in WestWinds was moved up. They are working hard to get as much work done, in as many neighborhoods as possible, before the program ends.
3. Why so many updates about the scope of work?
LLA and the County have worked hard to keep us informed, even as assessment and planning work evolved. The WW board also reached out to the County immediately after the first notice to get as much information as possible. Unfortunately, early plans and estimates often change as more information becomes available. The estimated cost of tree removal/replacement put the WW work over this year’s budget, so initially it looked like work on lower Country Club would be deferred until FY 2024 (the original timeline). The County was able to secure additional funds and approval to cover work along Country Club Road, moving the schedule back to this year. County staff are still working on a plan to replace the asphalt paths on one side of Panorama Drive and along Country Club Road from Wimbledon to Panorama with a continuous sidewalk, but several utility boxes will need to be moved. Consequently, that work cannot be finished during this phase of the project.
4. Why can’t they save these trees? This is one of the first questions we asked! The County is required to work with licensed arborists, both during the initial assessment and implementation phases of the project. Tree roots under 2” in diameter can sometimes be cut without damaging the tree. Unfortunately, roots that heave up sidewalks are generally 2” or larger. The County is trying to mitigate two risks:
Aggressively root-pruned trees may die later. Roots big enough to heave up the sidewalk are big enough to damage/kill the tree if cut, especially when cut close to the trunk. Also mow strips in older neighborhoods like ours are far smaller than those required now for new construction where trees will be planted.
Because these are mature trees, they would likely send out more roots that heave up the newly repaired sidewalk sections.
The best way to address both risks is to remove the trees, put in a root barrier, and replant with tree species better suited to the narrow mow strips in WestWinds.
5. Has tree removal been approved by the MD Department of Natural Resources (DNR)?
Yes - a Maryland Roadside Tree blanket permit has been obtained, and the arborists handling tree removal work have MD DNR Tree Expert certifications.